Your body does not determine your value, but it does add value to your life.
I recently finished up with a client who came to me because she was stuck in a never-ending cycle of going on diets/calorie budgets/meal plans, breaking them and feeling guilty, and then moving on to the next one because she was so disgusted with her body.
She was placing all of her value and self-worth on the way she looked, which was leading her to be extreme with what she was eating – diet after diet. This was causing her so much mental and emotional distress that she couldn’t keep it up for more than a few weeks, and she would fall off the wagon.
After these failures, she would feel even more disgusted with herself that the next attempt would be even MORE extreme, keeping her stuck in a vicious cycle or restricting and failing.
I recognized the cycle immediately; it’s so common that it’s actually normalized in our society, but these are disordered eating patterns driven by a feeling of worthlessness if we don’t have the “right” body.
Our plan of action was this:
- Stop dieting – heal her relationship with food and take the intensity away from all the food she had been restricting so that she wouldn’t binge or feel out of control around it.
- Get the Big Picture – rediscover who she was outside of having a perfect body
- Self-Care Mindset – re-associate eating and exercise as a means for CARING for herself rather than manipulating her body size
It’s always so beautiful to watch this process unfold with the women I work with. At first, it can be deeply emotional to let go of the idea that the shape of your body is not the determining factor of your worth, as obvious as this sounds. We have been programmed to believe otherwise, or so many of us would not be struggling with it.
But once this idea takes hold, a liberated feeling takes its place that opens you up to an entirely new process. The path is now clear because the intense “do or die” pressure to change your body has now lifted, and you can use that energy to begin relentless self-care instead.
My client went from diets and exercising off bad food to exercising in a way that felt empowering, eating in a way that nourished, while she also stayed balanced and enjoying food in a way she had never allowed.
And although it wasn’t overnight, her body responded. With this new consistency and self-care mindset, she was getting stronger, running faster, and eating healthier food than she ever had.
But the most important thing? She was HAPPY. And this happiness was NOT conditional on the shape of her body, it was because she fell in love with herself and recognized her value as a human being again.
Now instead of falling into a downward spiral of guilt and shame and defeat, she was taking care of her body because SHE DESERVED IT.
And you do too.
Have you been in a downward spiral of guilt and shame, powered by an intense need to fix your body?
The best way to stop this spiral is to start taking care of yourself with the same kind of love and compassion that you give to your children so selflessly. Let yourself to be exactly where you are right now, find the ways you can fit in self-care (don’t feel guilty if you don’t have tons of time to devote specifically to healthy eating and exercise – this is a mindset more than a particular action), and know that you are a worthy and valuable person no matter where you are in this process.
And as always, if you need more help with this process, my programs are available to teach you to develop this new mindset and lifestyle.
ACTION: This week, try making an effort to look for ways you could fit in self-care. Can you stop by your local coffee shop and spend a few minutes alone while someone watches your kids? Can you make yourself an actual lunch instead of eating the kids’ leftovers? Can you have a dance party in the living room with the kids? Can you listen to a playlist YOU enjoy instead of kids songs in the car?
Let me know how it goes!